Canadians are returning to Whatcom County as the US reopens the border

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Blaine resident and dual citizen Traysi Spring (right) and her husband Tom Bakken greet Canadians near the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine on Monday November 8th. The US opened its border to vaccinated Canadians traveling for “non-essential” reasons such as shopping or tourism after nearly 600 days of restricted travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bellingham Herald

At the U.S.-Canada border, traffic will flow again in both directions on Monday, November 8, after the U.S. began allowing vaccinated Canadians to enter the country.

The move comes 597 days after the two countries each restricted travel to “essential” transitions just to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

From 8 a.m. onwards, all five ports of entry from British Columbia to Whatcom County again allowed “unnecessary” travel, such as crossings for tourism, shopping or visits from family and friends.

But at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, there weren’t any long lines of cars waiting to enter the U.S. and there was no pedestrian traffic.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, waiting times at the border for cars from 9 a.m. were usually average or slightly above average:

Blaine-Peace Arch: Five minutes (average at 9 a.m. is five minutes).

Blaine-Pacific Highway: Five minutes (five minutes on average at 9 a.m.).

Lynden Guide Meridian: Five minutes (five minutes on average at 9 a.m.).

Sumas: 15 minutes (average at 9 a.m. is seven minutes).

Point Roberts: Five minutes (average at 9 a.m. is five minutes).

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A Canadian car approaches the US port of entry in Blaine, Washington on Monday, November 9, as the border opens to everyone for the first time in 597 days after the two countries made travel on “essential” crossings in just one effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Warren Sterling The Bellingham Herald

Waiting times at the Peace Arch crossing at midnight when the border officially reopened was 10 minutes, according to the CBP, and was 20 minutes at 7 a.m. before returning to normal levels at 8 a.m. Minute wait at midnight and a high of 20 minutes at 6 a.m.

The Canada Border Services Agency reported a 17 minute wait at the Aldergrove / Lynden intersection and a five minute wait at the Abbotsford / Sumas intersection for traffic going north.

Other entry points along the U.S. border saw much higher levels of traffic waiting for the border to open than the Whatcom County crossings did.

A Twitter post from Bounce Radio 1240 host Brock Jackson showed a long line of Canadians, mostly in RVs, waiting to cross the Osoyoos, BC border into Okanogan County.

Although vaccinated Americans have been allowed to enter Canada since August, it wasn’t until Monday that the US aligned its northern neighbors and began allowing travel for reasons other than trade and other “essential” purposes.

Although proof of vaccination is required for travelers traveling both north and south, the U.S. does not require a negative COVID test to enter.

However, Canada still requires proof of a negative test result within the last 72 hours for northbound traffic, even for Canadian citizens.

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Edaleen Dairy displayed a sign in Lynden on Monday November 8th welcoming Canadians back to Whatcom County. The US opened its border to vaccinated Canadians traveling for “non-essential” reasons such as shopping or tourism after nearly 600 days of restricted travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Edaleen Dairy Courtesy The Bellingham Herald

Many Whatcom County businesses are pleased to see the return of Canadian buyers who have been absent for the past 20 months.

Edaleen Dairy, which displayed a sign welcoming “Canadian friends,” has seen sales declines of about 65% to 70% since crossing the border at its Lynden, Sumas and Blaine locations, General Manager Mitch Moorlag said in a press release on Monday.

—Warren Sterling, [email protected], contributed to this story.

This story was originally published November 8, 2021, 8:59 a.m.

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David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and is now breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.


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